I’ve been yelled at or otherwise chastised by members of the public over everything from typos to getting a date wrong in a story, to both omitting and including someone’s name.
I even had someone sing me a poem once about proper grammar. (Hmm, how does that sentence stack up?) And I’ve had to correct corrections.
And since a picture is worth 1,000 words, we get plenty of, I’ll call it “feedback”, about those, too.
Accident photos have been a particular topic of conversation in the newsroom over the last couple of months.
We take photos at car crashes. It is part of our job. It is something that is happening in a public place that affects many others. That’s news. When it’s a serious crash it’s even more newsworthy.
Some people don’t like it. I’ve had someone try to pretend they were in the witness protection program so I wouldn’t use a photo of the crash she was in. (I ended up not using the picture because it was just a fender bender and not very interesting, but that lie made me want to use it, just because.).
More recently, we’ve had people, usually on our Facebook page, saying how dare we put accident photos on the internet, someone might be able to identify the vehicles in them.
Perhaps, but it remains news.
It’s about getting information out there that people can trust in a sea of rumours. Fiction, particularly if it’s colourful, can spread like water in a tsunami online.
There are lines we stick to. As a matter of policy we will not run photos of dead human bodies. There would have to be special circumstances and non-graphic images for us to run a photo of a dead animal.
But we will run photos of someone being stretchered to an ambulance or helicopter, or sitting by the roadside being tended by paramedics. These are things anybody at the scene could see for themselves.
It’s not that we’re insensitive, though I often joke that I’d take a photo if my house was on fire (actually, I probably would).
It’s that we’re tasked with reporting the news, good, bad and ugly. Sometimes that means chronicling someone’s bad day.